Thursday, August 23

So by Matzzie's reasoning, America's high casualities on D-Day meant the Allies were losing.

I caught Tucker Carlson's dust-up yesterday with MoveOn.Org's Washington director, Tom Matzzie. Tucker was so flabbergasted by Matzzie's talking points that he was off his game. Here's a sample of the exchange:
MATZZIE: There is no evidence that the troop surge is making things better.

CARLSON: Hold on. I want to be—I want to be open minded enough to recognize that. I don‘t think you are. I mean, all these liberals, all these Democrats, confirmed war opponents, have come back from Iraq saying, actually, we are making progress. Are they lying?

MATZZIE: Well, I think you‘ve got to look at the facts on the ground. They‘re getting the dog and pony show from the White House. And they‘re having one quote out of their entire speech pulled out and, you know, skewed out of context.

CARLSON: But that‘s not true. Wait, wait, wait. No.

MATZZIE: You need to look at the facts. There is the bloodiest summer in Iraq.

CARLSON: Hold on, man. Slow down.


CARLSON: Slow down. On this show yesterday, we had Brian Baird, Democrat—five-term Democrat from Olympia, Washington. He‘s a liberal, voted against the war. He‘s nobody‘s right-winger, nobody‘s neocon.

And he came back. He didn‘t give a single sound bite to me. I talked to him for six minutes, and he said, actually, the troop surge in some ways is working.

I mean, do you -- is he lying?

MATZZIE: We need to talk about the facts. Let‘s list the facts.

CARLSON: Where does he come up with that?

MATZZIE: The bloodiest summer in Iraq yet. More Americans killed June, July and August of this year than any year since we went in. That‘s a fact. Right?
Matzzie continued pounding at Tucker with the statement that the surge was a failure because this has been the bloodiest summer in Iraq for US troops.

Pundita fully expected Tucker to come back with something like the rejoinder in the title of this post. But he was so stunned by Matzzie's complete refusal to accept any Democrat's testimony of an improvement on the ground in Iraq that he couldn't get past that.

General Petraeus warned Washington that American casualties would increase once the US began fighting a war again in Iraq instead of conducting mostly policing operations. He may have put it a little more diplomatically but that was the gist.

Of course higher casualties in a war are not necessarily evidence a campaign is working. But there is enough evidence from numerous quarters that the new counterinsurgency strategy, in combination with the additional troops, is turning the tide. Yet Matzzie rejects all eyewitness accounts to this effect, saying that visitors are only treated to a show.

True, you have to be embedded to get a good look at what's happening in Iraq, but Der Spiegel was able to choose which regions their embed examined. Their reporter brought back accounts that comport with recent accounts of Democrat (and GOP) visitors to Iraq, who see evidence that the surge is working.

Matzzie twisted two other facts to argue the surge isn't working:
The second fact we need to look at is, Iraqi parliament on vacation. No political reconciliation in the country. [...]

The third point we need to look at: the Iraqi cabinet, 38 cabinet ministers, 17 of the 38 cabinet ministers are boycotting the government. They‘re not showing up for work. [...]

The point of the surge was to force the Iraqi government to make progress.
No, the point of the surge was to beat back the insurgents, who had run away with Iraq during the years the US military played cop. Instead of confronting this bleak situation head-on, Congress -- under fire from American voters about the disaster in Iraq -- reasoned in stepwise fashion about the surge:

They expected that the upshot of military progress during the surge would translate to giving Iraq's government a breather from violence. And from there, the belief was that with more security there could be conciliation between the sects.

MoveOn has clearly kicked out the steps; they read the surge as a failure because Iraq's government is in deep trouble.

MoveOn and the Democrats supporting their position need to keep in mind that no amount of political conciliation would have influenced al Qaeda's war in Iraq. No amount of conciliation would have influenced Iran's military actions in Iraq.

None of this means the US shouldn't push hard for conciliation but it's wrong to analyze the progress of the surge in terms of Baghdad's political problems. Indeed, the counterinsurgency has gone round Baghdad to work with regional players.

Does that mean Maliki's government is on the verge of collapse? Pundita's fav NBC war correspondent, Richard Engel, told NBC national news last night that he thinks so.

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